First 8 matches: Delhi Capitals W 6 | L 2
Next 4 matches: Delhi Capitals W 1 | L 3
The thing about the Indian Premier League is that with all the teams are so competitive, the tables can turn very quickly. One team gets their guard down and it can hurt them in the blink of an eye. Delhi Capitals seem to be stuck in that rut for now.
Not saying Delhi will not qualify for the playoffs, but a third straight loss, and that too a by the huge margin of 88 runs to Sunrisers Hyderabad has suddenly left them with more than what they can chew. They were on 14 points after 9 matches, needing just a win to have a Q next to their name. Now after 12 matches, the scenario remains the same and it is not going to get any easy from here.
A steely Hyderabad came out with a plan in Match 47 of IPL 2020, which was to attack from the word go come what way. And they did! They left out Jonny Bairstow (!), brought in Kane Williamson, got Wriddhiman Saha to open the batting, a move that turned out to be a masterstroke. He smashed 87 off just 45 balls as Hyderabad amassed 219/2 in their 20 overs.
Delhi were never really in the chase and more so after Rashid Khan’s magical spell of 3 for 7 as they were bowled out for 131 in 19 overs.
Saha was clearly given the license to go flat out and he did so with elan. He started off with a corker of pull shot through square leg taking on Kagiso Rabada smashing the bowler through successive fours, one via a streaky inside edge down to the fine leg boundary, then through midwicket.
Warner then took over from there. R Ashwin was brought into the attack possibly to attack the left-hander but Warner was not having any of it. He nailed a slog sweep over deep square leg while Saha continued making merry. The highlight of the Powerplay was certainly Warner taking on Rabada, pumping him into oblivion.
Warner reached his 50 off 25 balls as Hyderabad smoked 77 runs in the Powerplay, easily the highest this season.
The middle overs brought about no respite to Delhi. Saha brought the slog sweep out to perfection first going after Patel and then lofting one over Ashwin’s head. Warner tonked Ashwin over his head but the bowler immediately got one back.
Fearlessness is a key trait when bowling to the likes of Warner, and Ashwin despite being pumped, tossed another one up. The opener once again looked to attack, but this time did not reach the pitch and could only mistime as far Patel at cover. Warner fell for 66 off 34 balls, innings including 8 fours and 2 sixes. By the time Warner fell though, Hyderabad had reached 107 in just 9.4 overs.
If one thought Saha was going to take a step back after Warner fell, think again. In fact, after Warner’s departure, Saha notched up a gear. He got his slog sweeps out in full glory against the spinners while against the pacers, he stepped down the track time and time again and found the boundaries at will. He reached his half-century off 27 balls, his second-fastest in IPL. Saha eventually fell for 87 looking to clear Anrich Nortje only to be deceived by the pace.
Delhi pulled things back to an extent in the last five overs but Manish Pandey’s 31-ball 44* and Williamson’s 11* took Hyderabad to their second-highest score in IPL ever.
A chase in excess of 200 needed a strong start. Instead, Delhi lost Shikhar Dhawan and Marcus Stoinis in no time. Delhi’s opening stand has been their Achilles Heel. Four of their last five innings before this match, the openers did not survive the first over and they did not yet again. Dhawan got a leading edge off an in-swinger from Sandeep Sharma straight into the hands of Warner to fall for a golden duck. The very next over, Stoinis departed hitting a nothing delivery from Shahbaz Nadeem straight to Warner.
Ajinkya Rahane and Shimron Hetmyer got together and with the rate climbing like anything, they had no option but to go hard. They did manage to do that to an extent though. A fortuitous edge off Holder through the vacant slip region helped Rahane get into the grove while the duo took on Sandeep striking a four each in his over.
The final over of the Powerplay was the real game-changer in the opening phase. Hetmyer struck two fours while Rahane struck a six and a four as Delhi collected 20 runs off Holder’s second over.
All the good work to the point then came undone in a single Rashid Khan over, who it must be said is really a magician. He proved it once again picking 3 wickets in his 4 overs but more importantly at an economy rate of 1.75 – the most economical four-over spell this season.
The middle phase started on a sombre note for Delhi with both set batsmen Rahane and Hetmyer falling in Rashid’s first over. Brought into the attack in the 7th over, the Afghan leg-spinner struck with his first ball. A non-turning delivery was played all around by Hetmyer who found his stumps in a mess. Three balls later, a typical Rashid googly found Rahane trapped right in front of the stumps for 26.
Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer tried to salvage the chase but the required rate was always creeping up. Iyer fell top-edging a loose wide ball from Vijay Shankar to Williamson at extra cover.
But the middle phase was all about Rashid. He bowled 17 dot balls in his 4 overs as he went for just 7 runs and picked the wickets of Hetmyer, Rahane and Axar Patel. His was the sixth-most economical four-over spell in IPL history and the most economical four-over spell ever for SRH. By the time 15 overs were done, Delhi needed 124 to win off 30 balls, with the chase all but done.
Pant tried his best but could only muster a few boundaries here and there. A pinpoint yorker from Natarajan had Rabada castled before Pant too departed off Sandeep. Tushar Deshpande threw his bat around smashing 20* runs off 9 balls but it was always going to be a lost cause.
Eventually, all Delhi could muster was 131.